2023 tech trends
Making 5G pay
Delivering return on investment is still a concern and a priority for operators. They need equipment that can offer more connectivity pound for pound in order to start to realize 5G as a commercial success. The equation to solve this is fairly simple, minimizing their CAPEX and OPEX costs. However, delivery is more challenging. Operators need access to solutions that allow coverage to work at maximum efficiency, without causing energy consumption to skyrocket. Passive solutions are perfectly placed extend coverage capabilities, allowing electronic equipment to reach its full potential. This minimizes the need for additional equipment reducing both the OPEX and CAPEX costs.
In addition to the boosting efficiency, consolidation will be key to making 5G pay. The industry will need to focus on designing solutions with the same physical footprint, but combining functionality that would previously only been possible with multiple solutions. This will help operators investing in proprietary equipment, but is also a vital part of supporting evolving trends such as tower sharing. It is already pervasive in several APAC countries and we will see adoption across North America and EMEA as it moves operators to a more efficient business model with the potential to slim down costs and boost revenue.
The enterprise is a market that is growing in maturity and as digital transformation builds across all industries, support is needed to ensure they have the infrastructure in place to support digitalized businesses. At RFS we believe that a different approach to enterprise connectivity is needed, and we are already supporting businesses across a range of environments including airports, stadiums, campuses, warehouses and in mining. Our decades of heritage in the telecoms sector have given a foundation on which to build a switch free architecture for enterprise. Although an alien concept to IT departments looking at this style of wireless connectivity for the first time, it is proven to work in a telecoms context, and we are already starting to see successful use cases of this approach in enterprise environments.
As private networks are poised to take off, it is crucial that they lean into the simplicity that can be offered with a switch-free approach. This will ensure the networks they roll out are capable of performing and supporting the use cases that have driven their adoption.
Connectivity everywhere is still a core theme for the industry as we head into 2023. Ubiquity of service is a key differentiator for traditional telecoms players and maintaining this, and growing the services offered across the globe will be key to holding off the threat from hyperscalers like Google and Meta. The convergence of satellite and telecoms services as a way to connect the unconnected will continue over the course of 2023 and is a huge positive for customers that are able to benefit. However, there are where satellite does not work – mining environments or metros for example. There are also scenarios where it does not offer a cost-effective enough option to be a really viable option and telcos focusing on using resources as efficiently as possible can set themselves apart. The telecoms industry must focus on continuing to expand their footprint where hyperscalers cannot. Identifying the gaps and developing solutions to address connectivity will be key over the next 12 months and beyond.
There has been a big shift and the conversation has moved from "can we afford to" to "can we afford not to"? It will be a key topic in its own right, but will also bubble through many other aspects of the industry and influence how they develop.
We expect to see a certain amount of caution with 5G investment over the next 12 months. This is not 5G hesitancy, but a desire to ensure that equipment is futureproof from an eco-perspective, and it will be a far greater priority in the procurement process. As equipment designers and manufacturers, we have a responsibility to take a two-pronged approach – practices and propositions. Both improving businesses practices with the environment in mind and building a value proposition allows our customers to stick to their own sustainability goals.
Advanced network features
2023 will be the year that separate vision and viability. Many advanced network capabilities have been touting benefits for a number of years, however as global economic factors constrain budgets, we will see the industry separate those that are able to have a real and tangible impact from ideas that are perhaps not quite mature enough for commercial success. It appears that it may have been too early for OpenRAN to be the runaway success its proponents hoped for, however beam steering technologies are an example of a way to make equipment work harder and keep pace with demand.
Geopolitical and logistical challenges
Driven by a variety of economic and geopolitical factors logistical challenges are still a big issue in 2023 and the pressure it is putting on businesses is becoming a new normal. The key is to find a long-term work around to the problem as short-term band-aids are not sustainable. We are fortunate at RFS to have both a global network of local offices and an industrial footprint in Asia, Europe and the Americas, that is one of our core strengths as we look to weather out global challenges. By combining this with a problem-solving attitude and a customer centric approach, we are well positioned to work around challenging external factors in the long-term.
This is a ‘chicken and egg’ issue for the industry. Applications need infrastructure, but the infrastructure needs applications to justify the roll out investment. We have seen a huge amount of interest in this sector but the key to jumpstarting smart cities is with infrastructure that is geared to specific applications capable of delivering both quick wins and long-term value. Municipalities are almost by definition not connectivity specialists and so they need partners that can work as a one stop shop to build the application ready infrastructure that they need for successful smart city projects. To date this has been a missing link that holds back smart city success. In 2023, we hope to see things shift allowing smart city applications to thrive.